Social Emotional / Mental Health

Positive relationships with a range of people are vital to positive mental health. To develop these relationships, children need to learn the social skills that fit with the groups and communities in which they mix and live.  

There is a strong link between social and emotional development and mental health. The development of social and emotional competence can reduce the mental health problems of young people, e.g. depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders and stress. Studies confirm that children with emotional and behavioural problems are prone to the increased likelihood of school exclusion, offending and antisocial behaviour, and alcohol and other drug use. Children with high levels of social and emotional competence do better in school and in their personal lives.   

The information provided on this site aims to support parents in raising children with healthy social-emotional wellbeing and good mental health. Some information has also been provided for parents themselves. Parenting is a tough job sometimes. We all need to look after our social-emotional state and mental health, because how we think and feel about ourselves affects our families and those we interact with.     

Mental Health

Mental health is about the way we think and feel about ourselves and our world. It is about how we handle our everyday lives, like making and keeping friends, keeping up with school work and getting along with our family.

Mental Health includes:

  • How you feel about yourself and your life
  • How you deal with feelings
  • How you respond to stress
  • How you cope with things that come up in your life
  • Your self esteem and confidence
  • How you see yourself in the future.


We all have mental health just like we have physical health…and there are things we can do to look after our mental health to help us along life’s journey!

A more formal definition of mental health is:  “A state of emotional and social wellbeing in which the individual can cope with the normal stresses of life and achieve his or her potential. It includes being able to work productively and contribute to community life. Mental health describes the capacity of individuals and groups to interact, inclusively and equitably, with one another and with their environment in ways that promote subjective wellbeing, and optimise opportunities for development and the use of mental abilities. Mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness”.

Information on Mental Health and Wellbeing (Please insert link to Page 14)

Information on Supports Available for Mental Health and Wellbeing (Please insert link to Page 15)

Social-Emotional Wellbeing

“No road is long with good company”
– Turkish Proverb

Our social-emotional wellbeing is strongly influenced by our interactions with our families, our friend, and the people around us.  Social competence is the ability to make and maintain satisfying relationships with these people.  Social skills are the building blocks to form these happy and healthy relationships.

“When conversing with Owls, remember that they think it is rather beneath them to talk about little cake things with pink sugar icing”.
– (Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, A.A. Milne.)

So what are social skills and why are they important?

Social skills are made up of a number of important skills such as:

  • Basic communication skills – these include using appropriate language, smiling, maintaining eye contact, listening.
  • Entry skills – how to join the group.
  • Being part of a group – how to share, take turns, follow rules, cooperate, manage conflict, assist others.
  • How to be a friend – how to support peers, be helpful, show affection, involve others in decision making, being willing to follow requests.

This is a complex range of skills for children to learn. Some children may learn some parts and not others and will need support to get opportunities to practice so they can become socially competent.

Social difficulties in young children often relate to impulse control (causing difficulty with turn taking, negotiating and resolving conflict). Other difficulties may relate to:

  • Lacking the confidence to use these skills successfully
  • Shy children may not have the skills to enter the play situation and so are unable to form relationships.

So what can family and friends do to promote social skills in children?

Often parents believe that children should ‘just know what to do’, but in reality, most children need to be shown what the skills look like. Then, as with all other skills, it’s practice, practice, practice. Remember that encouraging the ‘good try’ is more effective than punishing them when they get it wrong:

  • Remember children are always observing and watching how family and friends treat each other and how to manage situations. Expect your child to copy you – so be aware of your own behaviour and its influence
  • With young children it is important to alert them to the feelings of others, even if they are not yet able to see the other’s point of view, eg ‘James has been waiting a long time now, I think we should give him a turn’. Young children need lots of practice to learn these skills and may need an adult to help them.
  • As children get older, the set of skills becomes more sophisticated. Peer relationships become more important and complex. It is sometimes important to revisit these basic skills, but at a level that is appropriate to their age.
  • For more ideas on what parents can do to teach their children social skills, read this article.


Information on Mental Health and Wellbeing (Please insert link to Page 14)

Information on Supports Available for Mental Health and Wellbeing (Please insert link to Page 15)

(References: Headroom –; and Department of Education and Training: Guide to Social and Emotional Learning in Queensland State Schools).

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